The “Wild West”

This section is not part of the web 2.0 class that I am attending this semester. I want to use this part to work on a portfolio that I have to write weekly entries for in another class.

Introduction

This portfolio has guided the seminar “Myth of the Wild West”. It was a good seminar and I have learned quite a lot. I went to a college in Arkansas for a year. I have travelled almost all over the Mid West and learned many things. I got to know people, how they think, what they cherish and I really got to like this part of the United States. It is a different part and not at all comparable with the East and West coast regions. Their way of life differs from all what we know and perceive here in Germany through the media. This seminar was supposed to support my opinions and attitudes but I also wanted to learn some more about the history of the West and take on different perspectives. Looking back it definitely taught me a lot and enhanced my knowledge about the West and still motivated me to learn more.

 

 

April 16, week 1: Introduction: Where is the American West?

Homework Reading: Turner’s “Significance of the Frontier”

Turner’s speech “Significance of the Frontier” was hold in 1893 in Chicago and was initially hardly noticed by the historians it was addressed to. Nevertheless it later became one of the key documents in the writing of American history.

Well, in class we discussed his speech and talked about the facts he mentions. First, we want to answer the question, how the West was settled. We decided that the West is primarily characterized by its natural boundaries, so to say the Mississippi in the East and the Rocky Mountains in the West although those borderlines moved steadily while the ‘West’ was settled.

Settlement also took place along rivers like the Missouri and it happened slowly, step-by-step and it was an unstoppable process. Economy came into being, agriculture was used to grow crops and to be able to trade. Up to date we can notice that big and important cities are founded near this stream.

The ‘West’ can also be defined as “unsettled land” which was declined “free land” for the pilgrim fathers. The Wilderness was related to the habitat of the Native Americans. Their trails became roads and much later on those roads became the railroads that we still drive on today. The whole process of settling the ‘West’ was one of constant adaptation.

As Turner says it, it was a “progress from primitive industrial society up to manufacturing civilization […] reached in the process of expansion.” This quote led us to the assumption that along with the settlement there was a slow change of the value system, from European to American.

According to Turner the first frontier was the Atlantic coast. It was the frontier of Europe in a very real sense. Moving westward, the frontier became more and more American. Thus, the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, a steady growth of independence on American lines. That means it was not just a single borderline but the “meeting point between savagery and civilization” that “lies at the hither edge of free land” in contrast to the fortified European borders of that time. Also, as I mentioned it before, the frontier created a new sense for values and in Turner’s opinion it was the place where Europeans became Americans. Therefore the frontier was the “line of most rapid and effective Americanization”.

While working on the text and going through the ‘West’ and ‘frontier’ discussion we also worked out some American characteristics that we think were established back in the day but live on today. Settlers definitely learned from native people and this probably contributed to the development of a tough and resilient character and their optimism. At least, they learned about the contrast between a simple easy way of life and a complex one. Additionally, what we can notice today is the work ethic of American people and their positive self-consciousness.

4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this ‘frontier thesis’? Which groups might feel left out by this version of American history? At first, the frontier was the Atlantic coast.

5. How does the idea of the frontier still shape American culture today (if at all)? Can you think of any examples?

 

April 23, week 2: The significance of the frontier

Text: The Virginian: Model of a Western Hero

The text is an excerpt from Owen Wister’s The Virginian. It portrays a newcomer from the East who surveys a western town and witnesses a confrontation between the novel’s protagonist, the black-haired Virginian, and a fellow named Trampas.

First, we talked about the description of the opening scene. Wister gives a brief definition of the frontier and its borders, saying it’s going from Columbia to the Rio Grande, from the Missouri to the Sierras. This is helpful for the reader’s imagination where Wister sets up his scenes, especially for the scene in this excerpt.

Furthermore, Wister states that the so called “towns” located inside the frontier have certain characteristics. They “lay stark, dotted over a planet of treeless dust”. Those towns consist of empty bottles and garbage and they are of “shapeless pattern”. These and a few more characteristics of the “West”, including that they have “littered” the frontier suggest a picture of this part of America that is a deserted, stark and pretty boring area.

Nevertheless, there are also some positive facts described. Wister mentions the “pure and quiet light” which cannot be compared in its beauty. He also associates the mornings and the sunrises with “creation’s first morning” which is a reference to the bible and indicates a somewhat mighty and divine atmosphere. Another really positive description is that of the “days and nights” being “immaculate and wonderful”.

So despite all the obviously boring and negative characteristics that the ‘West’ provides there are nevertheless some things so wonderful and great that it seems that they outweigh the bad ones.

Not yet do we have a clue that there is a story coming up about a black-haired man from Virginia. Only the deserted ‘wild west’ atmosphere could possibly indicate a scene or plot starring a group of men in a saloon, sitting at a table and playing a card game, but only because we already associate those things together.

The Virginian then seems to be a very quiet person and thinking very carefully about what he is going to do or to say to whomever. When he doesn’t speak while playing the game he gets called on by another player who intended to insult him with the word “son-of-a-…”. As his reaction the Virginian pulls out his gun. He only says one sentence and his voice is described as gentle and sounding like a caress, with “almost a space between each word.” Also, the author compares his voice with the “bell of death” and with a “stroke”.

Additionally to our discussion about the Wild West we had a text in class from John O’Sullivan on Manifest Destiny, written in 1839. It can actually be read as a laudation on the great American people, its history and origins. Of course, the Declaration of Independence is the main focus of justifying and grounding his arguments for “The great nation of futurity”. He sees the United States as they existed at this time as a “nation of progress, of individual freedom, of universal enfranchisement.” Furthermore, he speaks of several types of freedom (freedom of conscience, freedom of person, etc.) that one has in God’s own country.

The phrases in this text can be sorted into two columns, one containing religious connotations, one having more secular meaning. In the secular column we find O’Sullivan speaking of a country that consists of many nations. It has established a new political system, equality and freedom. It cherishes the spirit of individuality and it has broken with the past and is looking into the future. In contrast to many European countries back in the day there is and was no monarchy and the country was never led, destroyed or being ashamed by a single person and it has no history of warfare. Some points may be true, but certainly not this last one regarding the civil war that took place about thirty years later (which of course he could not have know at this point).

The religious aspects in the text clearly state that the country and its people were chosen and justified by God and therefore hold divine principles in whatever they do. Many things that are done in and by the country have the spirit of superiority and are beyond earthly power. At least, he mentions that peace and equality reign in the country.

April 30, week 3: The myth of the American superhero

Text:  La Roque’s “When the Wild West is me”

The homework reading was Emma LaRoque’s “When the ‘Wild West’ is me”, a re-viewing of the Cowboys and Indians. The text mainly focuses about how Cowboys and Indians were and are portrayed and perceived in books, movies and the society. For Indians, for instance, life was “grounded and nurtured by the land”. People had to prepare foods, sew clothing, repair or invent tools and other kinds of this work. Nevertheless, the author describes how “terrified” she was when she first saw a Cowboy/Indian movie. The “Indians” were displayed as grotesque, wild-eyed, lurking creatures with painted bodies and hideous faces” – a totally weird, unrealistic and apparently shocking image in the author’s eyes. One of the main aspects of the text is that the “history of imagining and […] imaging ‘the Indian” as ‘wild’ and ‘savage’ runs long and deep in White North America’s intellectual and cultural productions.” Later on the author criticizes the displaying of ‘Indians’ in movies, for instance, like “Dances with Wolves” which in her meaning gives the audience “a false sense of fairness and objectivity in the treatment of ‘Indians’”.

Furthermore, the author explains that calling someone a save means to call him non-human as well. The image of a ‘Wild Man’ being a “hairy, naked, club-wielding” person is of course not the one we should have in our minds when talking and thinking about ‘Indians’. The ‘Indian’ “is a white man’s invention, and is a classic example of the social construction of reality”. That means we construct our reality based on displays in movies and books which must necessarily be a restricted and sometimes even wrong image of reality. Therefore and as the author states it, “native peoples remain stereotyped, objectified, and alienated.” Even worse, there are long-term problems that arise when children “internalize the White Man’s heroic point of view”, thus they grow up with it and later on it is going to be hard to change their images and the meanings and connotations that come along with them.

Therefore, and because those facts impact politics and perspective, the author says that we have “to raise questions about its longevity and its utility.” A very important fact of the way to discuss those matters is that of the “Noble Savage”, an image that has an “extensive and powerful impact in our respective psyches and cultures”. In fact, this shows the much more positive aspects of ‘the Indian’ and certainly helps both to understand and to respect their culture, but also to change the way we think of ‘Indians’. I would not surprise if the “Urban Indian might hang on to the identity of the Noble Savage to authenticate his/her place in contemporary culture.” At least, the author talks about how important it is today to ensure those images are created right and that our perceptions and opinions are build not only on movies and books stereotyping ‘Indians’ but to “ensure we tell the truth about the original Cowboy/Indian encounter”.

May 7, week 4: Native Americans in the West: noble and ignoble savages

Homework: LaRocque: “When the Wild West is Me.”

In class we had a group work in which we had to deal with the text we had to read for homework. We had to write down questions in pairs of two and then had to share them with our two other group members.

Our questions where: 1) How were Indians and white population/settlers characterized in movies? 2) Can you compare the movie portrays with the original stereotypes? 3) Where lays the difference between new and old-fashioned movies? 4) Are the cartoon movies more romanticized or rather grossly oversexualized? 5) Why is it that there is so little historical objectivity and validity in those movies/images? 6) How is the concept of the “Wilder Mann” described? 7) Why is the Indian a white man’s invention? 8) Why are Native American children ashamed of their heritage? 9) How is the Noble Savage characterized? 10) What is the problem with the “Indian” identity today?

The answers to those questions are mostly described in my summary of the text by LaRoque.

We also talked about a few photographs that were taken, for instance, by “The Curtis Studio” whose history goes back to 1891 when Edward Curtis first bought into a photography shop in Seattle. An album, “The North American Indian” was created from 1907 to 1930 and later on sold for a lot of money. Questions to those photographs were: What did Curtis want to present to the viewer and what is the effect of those paintings? We had a picture of an oasis in the Bad Lands with the Sioux leader Red Hawk, a younger and maybe little more modern leader, on a horse. The other was a portrait of Geronimo which was taken in 1905 when Geronimo had officially been a prisoner for more than twenty years at Fort Sill, OK. He on the contrary, was not photographed on a horse nor did he have a gun like Red Hawk did. Also, the wide landscape was missing, it seemed he was sitting and standing in some kind of a “studio”. Nevertheless we thought that both pictures were not as authentic as they should be.

May 14, week 5: The Western Formula

 

(I did not attend class today)

May 21, week 6: Wilderness and Garden: The Battlefield between Nature and Civilization

(I did not attend class today but took notes on the reading)

Homework Reading: Flores, Dan: Bison Ecology and Bison Diplomacy. The Southern Plains from 1800 to 1850.

 

–          Reform of New Mexico’s Comanche policy: successful but in one point, Comanche were not able to be persuaded to settle and to farm;

–          Tribes rely on Bison for food for centuries; found it an “exhaustible resource”;

–          Between 1860 and 1880, right after the Civil War, “almost three dozen native American groups adopted horse-propelled, bison-hunting cultures”; rapid elimination of Bison;

–          Central issue of the text: How successful were the horse Indians in creating a dynamic ecological equilibrium between themselves and the vast Bison herds that grazed the Plains?

–          Also: how sustainable was the hunting Bison business; most tribes used them for food and to makes clothes at first; worked well; then market and economy of the West came and fur trade was established which kind of forced them to hunt more Bison and sell more fur to satisfy the market; à Interaction between the Indian policies and the growing pressure of external stimuli

–          Trade was an ancient part of the cultural landscape of America, but the Europeans altered the patterns, the goods, and the intensity of trade;

–          Mind map Bison ecology

 

 

May 28, week 7: Staging Reality: Wild West shows

 

Today we have watched a video about the Wild West show by Buffalo Bill Cody. We had to find out what was behind the portrayal of the West in the Show, how realistic or how fantastic it was. We had to work on a worksheet in small groups, discussing some questions.

What was the purpose or aim of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show? First, I have to give some information on the person. Buffalo Bill was a real life “hero” of the West from Iowa. He was a Pony Express rider during his adolescence. In the army he did a good job taking land from the native Indians which made him kind of famous and served him well in his acting career later. As we found it his whole show could not really be seen as authentic and probably did its purpose on convincing people of the common inverted opinion and perspective. That is, that the actual conquerors were being portrayed as victims being threatened by Native Americans which of course was not true.

We also had group works about two famous women, Annie Oakley and Lillian Smith. Annie was born in 1860 in Darke County, Ohio. She later became wife of touring champion Frank Butler whom she beat in a shooting competition. Her nickname soon became “Little Sure Shot” because she was such an excellent sharp shooter. Also, her name Oakley came from the town with the same name in Ohio. She joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show in 1885 and performed in the show for almost 17 years. Later on, a rivalry to Lillian Smith arose. This became so intense that she left the show. At the end of her life she enjoyed a comfortable retirement with Butler in Maryland and North Carolina. She died in 1926. Lillian Smith whom I mentioned earlier was Annie’s only serious female rival in Cody’s Wild West show. She was born in 1871 in California. Due to her exceptional shooting skill she as well joined Cody’s show in 1886. Both women were experts in different weapons. Annie took the shotgun while Lillian preferred the rifle. This made them special and created a rivalry as well.

 

 

June 4, week 8: How Violent was the “Wild West”

Dykstra, Robert. The Cattle Towns (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968), pp. 112-148. Copyright 1968 by Robert R. Dykstra. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Available in paperback by University of Nebraska Press.

Stuart, Granville, and Paul Chrisler Phillips. Forty Years on the Frontier: As Seen in the Journals and Reminiscences of Granville Stuart, Gold-miner, Trader, Merchant, Rancher and Politician. Bison Books, 1925.

Homework Reading: Group A: Dykstra “Cattle towns adjust to violence”

This text was basically about cattle towns in the West and how they had to confront the social problem of personal violence. There were five major cattle towns and three of them had serious problems with their bad reputation caused by violence. The first town named is Ellsworth and it was “filled with a heterogeneous collection of teamsters, railroad workers, army scouts, soldiers but especially with liquor dealers, gamblers and prostitutes. Dodge City was another town where violence ruled. For instance, it had to be saved from a “band of pseudo-vigilante terrorists.” In Caldwell they had some of the same problems including whisky peddlers, livestock rustlers and “other frontier riffraff”. Also, there were several murders and lynchings caused by the lack of any systematic efforts to suppress violence in those communities. An important fact is that most towns wanted to make their town a good place to live, where families were save and children could be raised. But due to publicity about local violence immigration of solid citizens, hard money and permanent industry was hindered. Later on, cattle town people established responsible vigilante action that was a very efficient protection against terrorism by transients. Nevertheless for instance Abilene town suffered extreme violence in its first cattle season in 1868, following shooting action in 1869. With time, state laws and municipal statutes forbade e.g. intoxication, fighting, disturbing the peace and further more. Proscription of discharging firearms within city limits and bans on gambling, prostitution and the frequenting of prostitutes followed.

Why was personal violence a social problem in the cattle town trading centers? What did the local citizens fear?

Basically, violence was the reason for the potential lack of growth. Local violence inhibited the immigration of solid citizens, hard money and permanent industry as described earlier. Personal violence was a social problem because it hindered the growth of the town. The population feared publicity of local violence. The fear was of becoming a Ghost Town.

Why was the myth of the lone marshal not the reality according to Dykstra?

The marshal was always able to call on people, especially male citizens to help him. He “gathered” troops to aid enforcing the law. Basically, that means they took law and order in their own hands.

How did most towns manage to “suppress the violence while retaining the visitors”? How did the state and municipal (city) laws work in this context?

There were state and municipal statutes that stated penalties for offenses. The also forbade vagrancy, intoxication, disorderly conduct, intoxication, fighting, gambling, and prostitution.

The city laws were often more flexible than the state laws. The laws showed to all citizens that the violence would not be tolerated. It was shown that the town’s growth was much more important. State laws forbade Confederate Soldiers from carrying weapons, vagrancy, and gun control. The City laws were taken more seriously than the State regulation.

How was the police force paid and what else were they expected to do apart from maintain the peace? What was the difference between saloon keepers, prostitution and gambling in that respect?

The police force was paid per month, about 1,200$ per year and more in the cattle season. Also, they got another 2,50$ per arrest. Saloon keepers paid annual license fees. Often they were bribed. Prostitution and gambling houses did not have to pay.

Why were the penalties for violence comparatively mild, even for homicides?

Families that are rich don’t get too many problems under the influence which altered the state. The town growth is much more important than having violence. Also, if you come from a good, wealthy family you were probably not going to be prosecuted. If you were “under the influence” you will not be tried either. Of course that was an illegal act as well. The idea of being for the “greater good” was very common.

What were the best characteristics and skills of a marshal to successfully contain violence and why?

He had to know about the ways criminals think. He had to know the tricks of the trait.

So how violent were the cattle towns in Dykstra’s opinion? What is true about the myth of the violent reputation and gunfights?
Overall people succeeded in containing peace. Of course there was violence in the Wild West as well as there is in the rest of the US. In the cattle towns, the violence is not as bad as compared to developed towns. This can be shown by the 1.5 deaths per year that was experienced. Over all the myth of the violent reputation was illegitimate. From our reading, the violence was in a way “under control”.

Throughout our readings, we have come across this idea of Social Bandits. Stuart defines them as a group of people that were given proper justice from the local town and cattle ranchers from the central portion of Montana. Most land workers’ opinion was to “help out your neighbor, no matter what, unless he steals your horse”. According to the text people did steal cattle and horses from ranchers, money from banks and from the railroad. In case those got caught they were killed. This show how much those people relied on their land and how emotional they reacted to disturbance of their peace.

June 11, week 9: Cowgirl and Female Stereotypes

Wilson, Gretchen, and John Rich. Redneck Woman. Sony Music Entertainment, Incorporated, 2004.

Today we mainly talked about to Wild West women, Mary Fields (Stagecoach Mary) and Calamity Jane. The first is described as being black, slave born, from a Catholic Mission and she was employed at the United States Postal Service. The photo shows her aggressive look as if she was trying to impress people. She was oppressed her whole life and here it looks as if she wanted to fight against this oppression.

The second is Calamity Jane, portrayed as an American Frontierswoman, professional scout and “Indian” Fighter. As a woman she was fully integrated into the “Man’s West”. Although those gave her a hard time sometimes she was always willing to have a fight or a gun battle to prove herself. We compared the 1953 musical to her picture. In the picture you cannot tell that Calamity Jane is a woman because she looks exhausted and worn. In the musical poster, Calamity Jane is shown as a very attractive and feminine woman. This is another aspect of the myth in the Wild West.

We also watched a documentary on the life of two elderly people on a ranch and how they manage their lives and what roles they play. It seemed as if the typical roles of man and woman were switched because the woman for instance milked the cow and also drove the livestock. We also listened to a song called “Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson. This song deals with most stereotypes and characteristics of Rednecks. I went to a college in Arkansas and this is probably THE Redneck state. It definitely reminded me of my time and experiences there. At the same time I can also agree to what she is singing about, a lot of those things are true and they really don’t mind that. For Gretchen Wilson, this is her style of living and as well as many others. She simply lives her life with a “big Hell yeah”. Throughout the song she uses the typical slang, characterized by improper vocabulary and grammar including ain’t and double negatives. The song possibly shows another side of people that could be considered to still be living in the Wild West.

 

June 18, week 10: Race and Justice: Black Cowboys and the Wild West

Online: African Americans in the Wild West 2A by Quintard Taylor Jr. University of Washington.

Taylor, Quintard. In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the West, 1528-1990. WW Norton & Company, 1999.

In a video we had to watch Taylor held a presentation at the University of Washington about the topics black people in the West and civil rights. He states, that African Americans had their freedom challenged from a very early point in history. 1865 all black folks were theoretically free. What does freedom mean? 90% of the black population was enslaved but in 1865 had theoretically the ability to move freely. The question was also, whether or not they had full political rights? The reconstruction process was still going on in the South and struggled for suffrage from 1865 to 1870. Black people were also excluded from public schools. Black people living in the West faced most of the disabilities that Blacks in the South did. They had no better opportunities although it seemed like it since the San Fran newspaper stated “we have removed slavery”. Nevertheless they had a tremendous struggle to give Blacks the right to vote. Nevada then was the first state to give blacks the right to vote. In Texas 20 white men and 150 blacks gathered and created the Texas Republican Party which has therefore an ironic history of itself because nowadays it later became the party of G.W. Bush. Also there was opposition to black voting in the West as well. Nonetheless black people began to challenge their right to vote.

In 1862 Charlotte Browns became California’s Rosa Parks. She was not allowed to ride on public transportation (street car). She then filed a law suit three times and in the end she was allowed to ride on it.

In 1866 black Kansas people gathered and wanted their rights, just after the Civil War. Their slogan was “We must be a constant trouble” and stood for a  campaign to regain suffrage in Colorado. They also wrote a letter to a senator who then agreed to their proposals.

In 1867 the Territorial Suffrage Act came into being. It extent the voting rights to all territories. The 15th amendment brought those rights to all black people in the west. Also, Kansas tried to get Blacks to live there. Black people tried to get work, live free and have political freedom. Kansas offered potential homesteaders farmland which back then was the best way to get wealthy. Kansas by then was still dominated by the Republican Party and still had lots of violence until 1877 at the least. But Kansas looked like a great place to stay and most people thought there was no way they wanted to go back to the South. John Brown, for instance, freed slaves in Missouri. Nicodemus in Kansas was the most attractive city and the first predominantly black city to seek attention. Nicodemus was located on the Solomon River and was the destination of the exodus of many Blacks. But they did what every other person did before and took the land from the Native Americans. Overall, their main goal was to be free and live the Oklahoma dream.

Also, we were supposed to write a letter from a black man who arrived in a city in Kansas and writes a letter back to his wife in the South. This is how the letter could look like:

 

Dear Jackie,

My travels have been long and strenuous and our trek faced so many problems. The weather was bad and the landscape rough. Our wheels broke so many times and it took us hours every time to fix it.

But I made it to Kansas City safe! It’s good here and the black folks that are already here took a little care of newcomers. For the first days I will live in a small flat sharing it with others. We have to get a job and make money to be able to buy or build a house. I don’t know what to do but I will try everything. Being a ranger or farmer would be nice but I am also really good in handy work so I can build houses and fix things easily.

Tomorrow I will also get land that I can grow and cultivate crops on. Also, I will have to build my house on it. I really hope you will make it and join a trek to Kansas City! It’s really good here, people are relatively friendly and helpful and it seems like they have a good community here. They’re even building a church now so everyone will be able to go to services. As far as I can think about it I guess KC will be a big city one day. It has all people need. We will be able to raise a child and have a family here as well.

Dear Jackie, I really hope it all works out as we wish it to. The conditions are good here and freedom feels good. Come soon!

Django

Another group work task was to fill in a tablet about African Americans and the West. We got several placards and had to describe and analyze them. In the first we see and elderly man, wearing a suit. His name is Benjamin Singleton, he was a farmer in Kansas and became a role model to many other African Americans. The second placard showed an advertisement to go to Kansas (“Ho for Kansas”) from 1880. They tried to attract African Americans to work and live in Kansas. Another placard showed the Exodus of African Americans to Kansas. Black people are on their way to Kansas. Also, they were fleeing from the yellow fever in 1870 as portrayed in another placard. The last is a picture showing Singleton and associates who tried to establish a well-planned and organized Exodus to Kansas. The picture was taken in Nashville, Tennessee. Why did they go? The simply did not want to live in the South anymore, they wanted to get away from the area and history of their slavery and seeked freedom on the West. Also, they looked for work and a much better life. They also tried to fight for economical and political rights. What problems did they have getting there? They had no money, no food, no support. There was still violence and racism going on in the South and on their ways towards the West. Additionally, they suffered from sicknesses and their travels were made hard by the rough landscape. What did they do when they got there? Well, they worked as hard and as much as they could to be able to start a new life. They got farmland that they could work on and much more support. Later on they also got more and better rights.

 

 

 

 

June 25, week 11: Mexican American Bandits and Folk Heroes

Anderson, Gilbert M. “BRONCHO BILLY AND THE GREASER.” (2012).

O’Sullivan, John L. “Annexation.” United States Magazine and Democratic Review 17.085-086 (1845): 5-10.

Paredes, Americo. El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez: a ballad of border conflict. Diss. University of Texas (at Austin), 1956.

Y Mendivil, Jose Maria Tornel. (Relations Between Texas, the United States of America and the Mexican Republic.

Today we discussed some stereotypes of Mexicans and Mexican Americans. We collected that they are portrayed as always being in the background, being poor, illegally immigrated and have a lazy work ethic. Also we said beans are very typical for Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Most of those stereotypes are probably somewhat true but I don’t know if they are that lazy. According to what I have learned at my college in Arkansas and what my roommate and many friends told me I think that they are hard working people.

We also had a silent film called “Broncho Billy and the Greaser” from 1914 in class. It basically showed how people thought and talked about stereotypes of Mexicans/Mexican Americans in the West. Broncho Billy was the bandit but he had good behavior and wore traditional clothes.

Another short cartoon was about Speedy Gonzales. It definitely presented some of the more negative images of Mexicans, those sleeping a lot and stealing. I would say that their accent, their big hats (sombreros) and their attitude towards family are not really to be seen negative. It is actually something that they contribute to the amazing cultural variety in the United States. It also shows them being helpless and always needing someone to take care of their lives which I really cannot agree with due to what I stated above.

“El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez” is an old song about some kind of Mexican hero. Gregorio is a hero and he kills many people which is why Texas Rangers are chasing him. He seeks revenge because his brother has been killed by Rangers. It is important to know that they cannot catch him and he also shoots another Ranger. It is more a hymn on how powerful Mexicans can be and that they are not willing to be oppressed by US- Americans. seen. Revenge is needed for his brother that was killed. Pride is also seen throughout the song.

Also, this whole Mexian topic reminded me of the still existing problems they have at the US-Mexican border today.

Additionally we read two discursive essays about the Southwest today. Tornel position is that the Anglo-Saxon people had to conquer the West as Alexander and Napoleon conquered other parts of the world. His statement is something like a support for Mexicans to continue to fight for their rights and to protect what is theirs.

O’Sullivan in the contrary writes about how America has to expand the country. He tries more to justify what happened between the US and Mexico.

 

Last and probably least there is a very interesting lecture about the American West in the 20th century by Richard White.

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